Since 1994, American Friends of Georgia, Inc. (AFG) has been helping our Georgian partners to establish and maintain care-giving programs to alleviate the suffering of their most vulnerable citizens. These include orphaned, homeless and disabled children, children with tuberculosis and cancer, homeless single mothers, and the ill and homeless elderly. Our innovative and groundbreaking projects provide medical care, education, sanctuary, rehabilitation, art therapy, surrogate parenting as well as support for Georgian artists’ efforts to preserve and promote their art and culture. AFG’s Executive Director/U.S, Marusya Chavchavadze, has visited Georgia yearly, meeting with our Georgian partners and learning about their needs. Since 2002, Lena Kiladze, architect and volunteer art teacher to the Dzegvi Orphanage children, has been AFG’s representative in Georgia and as Executive Director/Georgia. She monitors our projects and assists our Georgian partners with finding additional support.

from left: Lena Kiladze, Marusya Chavchavadze and Abbess Mariam of Transfiguration Convent in Tbilisi

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Georgia fell into darkness. There was little electricity or gas for heat and light in the cities. Some parts of the countryside have now been in the dark for a decade. The economy was in ruins and the social safety net disappeared. Teachers and physicians were not paid. Parents who could not feed their children were forced to let them beg on the streets or to put them in state orphanages.

Since 1994, AFG’s goal has been to provide real help to our Georgian partners who are attempting to create their own social safety net. Our relationship with our partners is based on mutual trust and respect.

Rather than AFG telling them what we think they should do, our partners have the creativity and freedom to tell us what they need and when they need it. We stay with them until both sides are confident that the project has become self-sustaining.